Is Cambodia’s clothing industry unravelling?

Drapers examines the future of Cambodian garment sourcing following the European Union’s decision to withdraw trade privileges.

Serious and systemic human rights violations have resulted in the European Union suspending Cambodia’s special trade preferences – a body blow for the country’s growing garment-making industry, which is now being exacerbated by the coronavirus outbreak.

Last month, the European Commission partially withdrew tariff preferences granted to Cambodia under the EU’s “Everything But Arms” (EBA) scheme. EBA grants “least developed countries”, such as Ethiopia, Bangladesh and Myanmar, duty- and quota-free access to the European single market.

The withdrawal of tariff preferences from Cambodia will affect selected garment and footwear products, as well as sugar and all “travel goods”. Unresolved criminal cases against trade unionists and the deterioration of democracy in the country were chief among the EU’s concerns. The preferences will be replaced with EU standard tariffs from August.

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